Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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In Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the tradition of New Comedy is faithfully brought to life in a musical set in ancient Rome, but relevant to the sensibilities of its 1960's audience. Through movie sets that suggest Roman surroundings, and comedic sequences that embody the spirit of the sixties, Sondheim creates a story where Roman characters, acting according to their types, draw in modern audience members and create a energetic romp through ancient Rome that is firmly rooted in the past, but could only have been taken in sixties-era America. Many aspects of the film pay clear homage to New Comedy. The plot is simplistic, focusing on the desire of a young man to get around the restrictions of his parents and gain the affections of the girl he loves. The characters, although not boring, are one-dimensional. Hero, the love-sick youth, has one hope in the film: to unite himself with Philia. Pseudolus, his slave, only wishes to earn his freedom. The life's work of Erronius is to find his children, each bestowed with a ring bearing an engraved gaggle of geese; and so on through the inhabitants of this depiction of Rome. Each character does whatever it takes to achieve their one goal in life, and this is what builds the frenetic disposition of the plot, causing twists and turns especially where the very determined instigator Pseudolus is concerned. There is no character development, however, and every character finishes the film with same endeavor he

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